Chivas hosted Monterrey in the Estadio Akron Saturday night, with los Rayados needing a win to keep pace with their crosstown rivals Tigres and Club León, who had both won earlier in the night, while a Chivas win would see them leapfrog Xolos into fourth place.
The biggest talking point from the start of the match was the absence of Rogelio Funes Mori from the starting XI for Monterrey, as it appeared that Diego Alonso was willing to gamble a tad with a domestic match on the road and save the Argentine striker for the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League matches with Atlanta United and upcoming Clásico Regio against Tigres.
The question would be then, if Monterrey would be able to score without Funes Mori in the lineup, because they had seemed unable to generate much offense in the matches that he had missed in both the Apertura and Clausura. However, it wouldn’t take long for Monterrey to answer that question.
Dorlan Pabón opened the scoring early, with a remarkable goal in the 2nd minute of the match. Pabón took a half-yard of space and launched what probably seemed to be a speculative shot, but it caught Raúl Gudiño, the Chivas goalkeeper, in no-man’s land and landed in the back of the net.
After the opening goal, the match was played fairly evenly between the two sides, with neither team really able to get a hold of the match very well, leading to a lot of possession in the middle third of the match, and a number of chippy tackles from both sides.
Gudiño earned his paycheck in the 33rd minute as the keeper made three vital saves in a row to deny what appeared to be a sure-fire scoring chance for los Rayados. First, he was able to deny a powerful shot from Carlos Rodriguez, and then twice stopped Jesús Gallardo from putting the ball in the back of the net on rebounds. The ball eventually was cleared and then Gallardo got a dumb yellow card for running over a Chivas player on the counter attack.
Chivas got their best chance of the half a few minutes later, but Ronaldo Cisneros could only direct his header into the crossbar, and Chivas were left wanting on the score sheet, despite having a good majority of the possession.
Los Rayados almost struck back before the half was over, but Miguel Layún put his free-kick over the net, although he didn’t miss by much.
First half stats for #Rayados:— Rayados90 (@rayadosninety) March 3, 2019
Total shots: 10
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 5
Blocked shots: 1
Shots from outside: 7
Shots from inside: 3
Big chances: 2
Big chances missed: 2
Acc. Passes: 105
Acc. Percentage: 67%#LigaMXeng
Monterrey perhaps a little lucky to be up 1-0 in what probably should have been a 0-0 first half, but Pabón’s wonder strike was enough to see the visitors take a 1-0 lead into the second half.
Monterrey started the second half with a bit of a burst on offense, but their best chance, a free kick from Pabón, beat the wall but only bounced into the safe hands of Gudiño.
Chivas seemed to have drawn the match level in the 66th minute after former Rayado Luis Madrigal, who had just be introduced for Alexis Vega, got his head to a ball from a free kick, but VAR pulled the ball back due to offsides, and Rogelio Funes Mori replaced Ángel Zaldívar in the lineup.
Rayados almost had a second goal in the 71st minute, but Funes Mori avoided the ball as it arrived near him all alone outside of the Chivas box, as he correctly thought he was offsides, and instead allowed the ball to roll onto an onrushing Pabón, but his shot was poor and went well wide of the Chivas goal.
Monterrey continued to allow Chivas plenty of chances to get on the scoresheet, as Chivas again dominated possession and chances, with the Rayados defense being called upon again and again to try and keep Chivas out.
Doble cambio Rayado.— ZonaRayada (@zonarayada) March 3, 2019
Salen Carlos Rodríguez y Jesús Gallardo.
Entran: Maxi Meza y César Montes.
Monterrey went to three at the back for the final 12 or so minutes, with Cesar Montes coming in for Gallardo and Rodriguez coming off for Argentina international midfielder Maxi Meza, both of which who were probably rested for the upcoming CCL match in midweek.
Monterrey dug themselves an even deeper hole in the 79th minute, as former Chivas player Rodolfo Pizarro managed to get himself red-carded for going in studs up on a tackle onJair Pereira right in front of the Chivas box. It was an unnecessarily aggressive tackle for the situation and place on the pitch for an attacking player to take, and it was a very, very poor decision for the midfielder, who will now miss the upcoming Clásico Regio.
However, just when things looked dire for Monterrey, Pabón came through with an 87th minute golazo. Once again, Pabón was left all alone about 25 yards from goal, and once again, he fired a shot that beat Gudiño, looping over the keeper’s head and sealed the win for Monterrey.
Madrigal had a chance to again pull a goal back for Chivas in stoppage time, but his shot to the far post hit Rayados keeper Marcelo Barovero’s hands and then glanced off the post and out of danger. Chivas got a couple more corners, but it ended up as a 2-0 victory for Monterrey, who did enough to walk out of the Estadio Akron with all three points.